Using EMDR with individuals with austistic spectrum disorders – A protocol


Individuals with autism have a number of complex differences that make trauma processing exceptionally difficult. In order to use the eight step protocol with these individuals, preparation and some modifications are necessary. The process presented in this workshop will provide some general information about the characteristics of autistic individuals, step by step skill training to precede the EMDR process, the use of Carol Gray's Social Stories to help clarify those targets and situations being processed, and the EMDR protocol with slight adaptations for individuals with speech and language impairments. Also included are cautions for using EMDR with this population due to their complex differences. This process has been used successfully with individuals across the Autistic Spectrum as well as individuals with Asperger's Syndrome and other developmental disorders including Williams Syndrome. This has been developed over a 7 year span. This step by step program has been successful with abused individuals with global developtnent delays, significantly impaired speech and language abilities, and significant cognitive disabilities. Following use of the EMDR process, individuals have dcmonstrated a significant reduction in symptoms, increased verbal ability, as well as improved social relationships and self-regulation skills. These improvements have remained over time.






Sherri Paulson

Original Work Citation

Paulsen, S. (2006, September). Using EMDR with individuals with austistic spectrum disorders - A protocol. Presentation at the 11th EMDR International Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA



“Using EMDR with individuals with austistic spectrum disorders – A protocol,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 29, 2020,

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